Ex-Maldivian president sentenced to 13 years in jail

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Male, March 14: Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed has been found guilty of terrorism and sentenced to 13 years in prison for the military's detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012. The verdict was delivered at the final hearing on Friday night.

Delivering the verdict, Judge Abdulla Didi said the prosecution's evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt that Nasheed ordered the chief judge's arrest or "forceful abduction" and detention on Girifushi Island, according to Minivan News.

Ex-Maldives president gets 13 years jail

Nasheed was the "architect" of the "atrocity," Judge Didi said.

While state prosecutors presented their closing arguments, Nasheed asked for 20 days to prepare his closing statement, stating he was unable to communicate with lawyers, examine evidence, or adequately prepare a defence.

Nasheed was charged with "enforced disappearance" under the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1990, which carries a jail term of between 10 to 15 years.

Prior to a hearing on March 9, all four of Nasheed's lawyers quit in protest of the Criminal Court's refusal to grant sufficient time to examine the prosecution's evidence and mount a defence.

The presiding judges had denied the lawyers' request for adequate time, stating Nasheed's legal team has had the case documents for three years, said the daily.

Nasheed was first charged in 2012 with arbitrary detention under article 81 of the penal code, which carries either banishment or a jail term of up to three years.

On February 15, Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin withdrew the charges filed at the Hulhumale Magistrate Court. Nasheed was arrested on February 22 shortly after the prosecutor general filed terrorism charges at the Criminal Court.

At the previous hearing, Judges Didi, Abdul Bari Yousuf, and Shujau Usman dismissed the opposition leader's repeated requests for legal representation. The judges also refused to hear defence witnesses, claiming they could not negate the prosecution's evidence or witness testimony.

"I want a lawyer. This is not a court of law. This is injustice. This is the biggest circus this country has seen in its constitutional history," Nasheed said.

Continuing its daily protests since Nasheed's arrest, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) began a march at the "Usfasgandu" area of capital Male with thousands of supporters.

Police escorted Nasheed to court around 8 p.m. for the last hearing of his trial. The opposition leader attempted to talk to journalists assembled outside the building, but was blocked by police.

Nasheed told the journalists to "stay strong."

IANS

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